One set was all it took for the Red Raiders to show they could compete with a top Big 12 Conference volleyball team.
But going toe-to-toe for just one set in a best-of-three match isn’t going to cut it.
Texas Tech dropped a three-set match to visiting Oklahoma on Wednesday, battling to a 27-25 loss in the first set before dropping the final two sets in less-than-stellar fashion, 25-20, 25-21.
“We had a lull to start set two and a little lull in the middle of game three,” said Tech coach Don Flora, whose team got in a 15-7 hole in set two and a 22-14 deficit in the third game, “and those are the things that hurt you and that’s where we’ve got to grow up from.”
The performances in the second and third set were a stark contrast to the all-around performance in the opening set.
Tech came out hot, getting quick kills from Miara Cave and Mikia Mills to set the tone of the set.
“The first set was a lot of fun,” said Tech libero Rachel Brummitt, who notched 10 digs and two service aces. “We came really close and we almost had them. It was just really exciting and we felt the energy on our side.”
The Red Raiders (12-11, 1-6 in Big 12 play) built a 10-6 lead, but Oklahoma tied it at 14. Neither team got up by more than two the rest of the way, and Tech had a set point at 24-23 and 25-24.
However, hitting errors started to catch up to the Red Raiders and the Sooners took the set and the air out of Tech.
“We tried to manage game one,” Flora said, “and we get that chance and we’re in an opportunity to win game one and kind of punch them in the face — and we make one or two hitting errors at the wrong time.”
So much hinges on the first set, Flora said, and the Red Raiders had their lull at the start of the second set to put the Red Raiders in a quick 2-0 hole.
“I think we fell off a little bit,” said Cave, who led Tech with 10 kills but only one in the final set. “We lacked a little bit of communication and we just have to keep steady point-by-point-by-point and keep the communication up and I think we’ll be fine.”
Except for 6-0 run late in the third set — which made a 22-14 game 22-20 — the Red Raiders couldn’t get more than three points in a row all match.
Oklahoma (16-6, 2-5) was led by big hitter Sallie McLaurin, who had 16 kills and a .467 hitting percentage.
Brummitt said the Sooner hitters, who hit .271 to Tech’s .110, were the same caliber the Red Raiders will see all conference season.
Tech got down big midway through the third set, but used a late 6-0 run to cut the game to two and threaten a comeback.
However, the Sooners used both timeouts late in the set to talk things over, and the Sooners got three points on hard kills to end the match.
Reserve setter Nicole Hragyil led the team with 21 assists as Flora emptied the bench against the Sooners. Fifteen Red Raiders saw playing time Wednesday. Tory Vaughan led Tech with 14 digs.
Tech plays at 3 p.m. Saturday at Kansas State, hoping to play more consistently through the whole match.
“We play toe to toe with a lot of teams in the conference,” Cave said, “and we just need that push. Instead of them getting on runs, we need to go on runs and get that extra oomph to win the match.”
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